The Volvo XC90 is a stylish, understated large SUV that’s beautifully built, has space for seven and is packed with clever technology. It’s good value for money compared with its key rivals, and comes very well equipped. A fabulous all-rounder that’s highly recommended. Read our long-term review of the Recharge Plug-In Hybrid version of the XC90 to find out if it lives up to the hype.
Compare the most popular XC90 against equivalent versions of rivals like the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, and it looks like really good value. It’s cheaper to buy than the rest, it depreciates less, it uses less fuel, it’s cheaper to insure and it costs you less to service and maintain.
Over the course of your average ownership period, choosing the Volvo stands to make you a fairly sizeable saving. The lower price and strong residuals will also be useful in keeping down monthly payments for finance customers, while the extra efficiency will prove particularly useful for company car drivers, especially if they go for the plug-in hybrid version.
Some models use mild hybrid technology, which doesn’t do a lot to reduce ownership costs. The Twin Engine plug-in hybrid models have incredibly low CO2 emissions and remarkable official fuel consumption figures, and can use electric-only power for short trips. These versions are expensive to buy, though.
Expert rating: 4/5
Reliability of a Volvo XC90
Volvo has renewed its entire line-up in recent years, so gauging long-term reliability isn’t easy. The early signs suggest some improvements, though. The 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study ranked Volvo 10th out of 25 in the overall manufacturer table, and it was far and away the highest-scoring premium manufacturer.
Auto Trader owner reviews for the latest XC90 are positive on the whole, but not especially so. Should anything go wrong with your XC60, Volvo offers a fairly standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Volvo XC90
The XC90 is one of the safest cars you can buy. As well as all the crash protection you’d expect, it comes with a range of advanced safety features to help prevent you having a collision in the first place.
As standard, you get an automatic braking system that can help to avoid – or mitigate – collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. There’s also ‘run-off-road’ technology that uses the car’s steering and brakes to help prevent you veering off the road unintentionally, as well as front seats that are specially designed to reduce vertical impact (and therefore spinal injuries) if your car leaves the road and lands heavily.
On top of that there’s a system that automatically steers the car back into your lane should you drift out of it, advanced cruise control that steers the car to keep you centred in your lane on the motorway and an automatic braking function that steps in if it detects that a collision with an oncoming car is imminent. An option pack includes a blind spot information system that can help steer you away from oncoming traffic and a rear collision mitigation system that activates the hazard warning lights and pre-tightens the seat belts if it senses an imminent impact.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Volvo XC90
Few cars allow you to waft up to seven people around in as much comfort and style as the XC90.
Headroom and legroom – as you’d expect of a car this big and square-sided – is exceptional, especially in the front two rows of seats. Even the third row seats offer good space for adult passengers, unlike some rivals. The seats in the middle row recline, fold and slide individually, while the rear pair can be easily folded away when not needed. In five-seat mode the boot is vast; even with the rear seats in place there’s more boot space than you get in some city cars.
The cabin is a wonderful combination of luxury and practicality, and blessed with top-notch materials and smart design. It looks great, and feels beautifully built, while the large centre touch-screen that controls most functions is generally user-friendly. The driving position is commanding, too, while all-round visibility is excellent.
Although the XC90 feels like a big car when you’re behind the wheel, it’s easy to drive and the ride is generally comfortable, especially with the optional air suspension fitted.
Expert rating: 5/5
Features of the Volvo XC90
Every XC90 is packed with luxury equipment, some of which you would have to pay extra for with its rivals. As standard, even the cheapest versions come with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather upholstery, electric front seat adjustment, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, a powered tailgate, Bluetooth, a built-in internet connection and automatic lights and wipers.
Move up the range and you can give the XC90 a sportier or even more luxurious character, as well as lots of extra kit. The extensive options list allows you to personalise the look of your XC90, and choose from a range of tempting option packs that group related features together.
Expert rating: 5/5
Power for a Volvo XC90
There are four engine choices in the XC90 – one diesel, two petrol and one petrol-electric hybrid. Each one comes with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, and provides the strong, smooth performance you’d expect of a luxury SUV.
The B5 diesel and B5 petrol models have a mild hybrid system that helps to boost responsiveness at low revs. Both are strong, but the diesel feels more effortless. The T6 petrol version is very quick once it gets into its stride, while the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is quicker still, with a 0-60mph time of just 5.5 seconds.